Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, June 24th, 2018

Water cooler discussions of the week

Two court cases received lots of commentary this week and were subject to public discussion at every water cooler. 

The first involved J.V., now demoted to Brigadier, a female government employee working at the island’s correctional institute who while driving under the influence of alcohol, with kids in the car whose windows were tinted black, and the phone ringing, caused a fatal accident, leading to the death of the late Zinnia Croes, 12.

The courage and determination of the Croes family has to be commended. While the investigators did their best to protect their own, botch the evidence and the accident report and basically sweep this case under the rug, the family fought for three years, to bring the case to court.

A very unusual and courageous move for Aruba, not everyone has the emotional and mental resources, and the steel-will to oppose the authority and take the system on, successfully.

By having their day in court, they proved the system works, but THEY had to work it. It didn’t work on its own.

The take-away: We must stay involved and hold our leaders accountable. When left to its own devices, the system is sometimes prone to failure.  

The case is not over yet, sentencing on July 5th.

The second case of the late Rishandroh and Eugene, the kids who are no longer with us, the 15 years requested by the prosecutor for father G.M. and the 4 years for mother R.F. were deemed too lenient in the court of public opinion.

I had to call my Legal Advisor to help me understand some of the complexities of this brutal tragedy.

She is a battered woman, said my legal eagle, very young and suffering from Battered Woman Syndrome, BWS, a recognized mental disorder that develops in victims of domestic violence as a result of serious, long-term abuse, and it leads to chronic “helplessness,” where a victim is so depressed, defeated and passive that she sees no way out, and she believes she is incapable of leaving the abusive situation.  

R.F. was repeatedly beaten for a long time, even when pregnant, then the kids from her first relationship came to live with her in August and things escalated fast. One boy gone in September, the other in November, she could not figure her way out of the situation, hence the perceived lenient request by the prosecutor. She will require treatment and will be restricted from seeing her tormentor for three years, which might help her shake his influence.

I know it is difficult to believe that all the bruises and burns on the kids did not spur her to action.  

As for G.M. who is mentally unstable, his actions were not pre-meditated, he just flipped. After sentencing if he gets 15 year, he will be out after 10 for good behavior, but then the *TBS decision comes into play he will be under permanent State supervision, he will not be a free man, probably committed to an institution and medicated, until the State determines he is no longer a menace to society. So, a 15-year sentence tied to TBS is in fact longer. Under TBS specialists will have to look at him every two years and evaluate his mental stability before sending him out into the world.

My legal eagle also noted that it all depends on the offender, if he/she collaborates, takes his/her meds, and welcomes help. In general, according to her 20% of those release from TBS will go ahead and reoffend.

*Terbeschikkingstelling (TBS) is a provision in the Dutch criminal code that allows for a period of treatment following a prison sentence for mentally disordered offenders.

The Changing of the Guards

Barcelo Aruba helped AHATA say farewell to Jim Hepple, and welcome Tisa LaSorte, as the new CEO & President at the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association

Jim, with 45 years of experience in the tourism industry, and 35 years of working in various Caribbean destinations, including St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, Bahamas, and Aruba, will be a valuable player at UA, University of Aruba, where he is currently Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

His PHD will help the university kick start the local MBA, Master of Business Administration program, which is much needed here in light of the via dolorosa imposed on local companies, forced to import needed talent, and pursue impossible-to-get work permits.

Tisa, the incoming leader has been a favorite candidate for the job, for more than one year, but nothing comes easy, it took some convincing that the perfect man for the job is a woman, besides she was content and passionate about her job at Bucuti & Tara Suites, and as I said, it took some convincing.

She will have a zero-learning curve, because she is a child of the industry and knows the local personalities well, including all their idiosyncrasies; she’s fluent in the language of local politics and as the bearer of the torch for the Henriquez family she will work tirelessly on behalf of Aruba, proud to walk in her father’s footsteps.  

 At the Monday meeting, Jim dazzled us all with his brilliant, concise report on the activities of AHATA in the past year, and posed for a souvenir snapshot with Tom Calame, the outgoing President of the Board. A fancy Mont Blanc bag exchanged hands, I suspect it is an iconic writing instrument befitting a university professor.

I heard he will also consult for local companies, putting his analytical mind to good use in the private sector.

The Barcelo orchestrated an impeccable event, graciously guiding arriving AHATA members to the ballroom, welcoming them with a champagne cocktail, then after the meeting presenting an elegant reception including live entertainment, a buffet of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and a delectable selection of main courses, including a sushi action-station, plus dessert.

We could get used to that level of hospitality, easily.  

It works like clockwork

I left the house at 10:50am and returned at 12:20pm, having visited a new doctor’s clinic, new to me, chatted up a storm in the Hospital gift store, and gotten an x-ray.

That, you must agree, was fast and efficient.

Congratulations to all involved.

I don’t use our health system frequently – gratitude is owed – but this week I did, and it worked like clockwork.

Jessique, a Doktersassistent at the Medical Centre Keito, gave me an e-mail appointment. I arrived ahead of time, found parking easily, waited a few minutes for my turn in a sparsely furnished but airy waiting room, after having announced myself to the assistant. Then I chatted with a sunny Belgian-born doctor, in possession of great knowledge of muscles and discs – take your pick: slipped disc or muscle strain.

With a referral letter I headed to the hospital. Lots of parking. Off to the gift store for some water. Found a friend and lingered.

The store was moved from its lobby location one year ago, to the far-left diaspora. Yet work on the lobby location renovation has not yet begun. They vacated the store, but there is no definite date of return. I commiserated.

A million cigarette butts in the gravel on the way down from the makeshift store to the main entrance.

(Did you see how the Japanese fans cleaned the stadium after the game with Colombia, picking all trash up?)

At the x-ray radiology department, chairs in a row. I introduced myself in the cubbyhole and got a number. I brought a sandwich, reading materials, and a change of clothes just in case I had to wait a day or two. I hardly sat down when an older gentleman came to get me with concise instructions which cloths to take off, which to keep on. Dressed in my flipflops I got acquainted with the x-ray generator which my diminutive radiologic technologist operated discreetly from behind a control console.    

From Wikipedia: In 1895, Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays emanating from electrical discharge tubes and the many uses for X-rays were immediately apparent.

Lie on your back, turn to the left, don’t move, keep your flip fops on. I was out in a jiffy. Gotta be impressed.

Congratulations to all involved.

Investigate first, pardon later

An ad in Amigoe and in BonDia appeared just recently published by the MinInfra asking those who are building commercial projects without appropriate permits to come forward, they are given a chance to hand in their documents and the MinInfra will be evaluating their petitions, to see if their ass may be saved.

Basically, a window of opportunity for the pirate projects we see on Eagle Beach, Alto Vista and town, to complete the paper trail, and be pardoned.

The ad was odd. Because, it talked about the possibility of actual exoneration of commercial agreements made by developers who did not completely comply with the legal requirements for permits.

My hunch says the MinInfra is out to help a certain developer caught with his pants down. A particular developer which I couldn’t identify. Yet.

Remember, the MinInfra was initially asked to investigate the scope of the previous government commitments, BEFORE attempting to unstick half-finished projects and regulate pirates.

Parliamentarian Marisol Lopez Tromp also saw the ad as odd and dispatched a number of questions for MinInfra. She had demanded a complete investigation of Mr. Idon’tgiveafamn before moving on forward, especially in light of all those court verdicts condemning Mr. Idon’tgiveafamn’s style of management and conduct.

Basically, her point is: Investigate first, take inventory, seek clarity, share your findings, then call the culprits in one by one, and see what can be done about their monuments to lack of government control.

The minister was asked the following:

Why didn’t DOW or DIP intervene during the previous government?

Why didn’t DOW or DIP control the projects, and do they have a complete registration of the above.

Can the MinInfra send Parliament a written report on the amount of illegal construction in the commercial sector? What do DOW and DIP have registered?

Is it local or foreign investment? Can Parliament get a description of the projects, as well as a description of the type of exoneration offered and at which location?

Can the MinInfra hand in a list of commercial projects destined for Eagle Beach, Alto Vista and Camacuri, as well as a summary of the construction project around the wharf of Oranjestad.

Parliament passed a motion for the investigation of DIP and the management of the previous MinInfra. Can the MinInfra indicate if the investigation had started already and how far it reached?

Most importantly: What is the reason the MinInfra gives the possibility of exoneration priority? If investors acted against the law and started construction without the appropriate permits, or supervision by DIP and DOW, how did they become a priority?

Why not research first and pardon later?

In her last question Parliamentarian Marisol Lopez Tromp refers to the mention of building up, and asks how many floors?? What is the new ceiling on vertical construction.

We all want to know.

How important is it?

When you are offended by something a friend or family member said, whether right or wrong, whether you have a good reason to be mad or not, ask yourself how important it is.

It is worth opening up Pandora’ box that might have negative circumstance, or let it go this time. You never know where this argument might lead. Is it worth it, or you can let it slide?

I wish our venerated leaders would ask themselves that question every once in a while, before acting and shooting from the hip. Let AVP have its silly meeting in the unpaid facility, which they now complain about having to pay for.

Their members must all be mentally challenged if they don’t understand that they caused the very thing they are bitching about.

You cannot always settle disputes in the court. One of the sides must ask: How important is it? Can I let it slide?

The Board of Directors of Parke Arikok resigned. They were all good people. Probably some of the best we have. They were replaced by some more excellent people.

Peterson/van der Wal/Arens/Thode resigned in protest, they did not feel the love, they felt controlled, they were not given space to exercise their magic, they were threatened and unappreciated.

But on the other hand, the minister accused them of being rebellious, ungrateful, a renegade board, marching to its own drum, betraying trust.

It’s a park for god’s sake. It’s a park.

Can we all get along, please.

I know there i$ money involved and real e$tate. But can you all stop and think, how important is it.

Especially the MinInfra.

Was it that important to replace SAC with SMAC? Did it make that much of a difference that it was worth insulting the veteran folks and humiliating them, by climbing over the heads?

Was it that important to pass the all-inclusive hotel legislation?  Did it make that much of a difference that it was worth brutally insulting the hotel industry to prove a useless point?

And AruParking. If an idea is force fed and imposed, it will be undone and abandoned as soon as its opposition gets a chance.

I found a good word in the dictionary: Con·sen·sus, kan’sensəs, meaning general agreement, harmony, concurrence, accord, unity, unanimity, solidarity.

All you wanted to know about the Red Cross Aruba

Besides being a successful developer/hotelier Jurgen Van Schaijk is very active with the Red Cross Aruba and made excellent efforts to sell tickets for its fund-raising garden party, which took place last night at the Surfside Marina.

It was a sold-out event, well-attended by what my colleague Tito Lacle called power people and nicely decorated by Flora Market, Santa Rosa, and a number of generous liquor purveyors.

The band was first-class, Blue Boulevard, playing in the bit removed pavilion, offering party goers the opportunity to network and talk in the garden. So, they did. They could hear each other, and the dance floor remained empty until I left, but who knows maybe they danced later in the night, at the end of conversation topics, and when the buzz kicked in.    

The governor of Aruba, his excellency, Alfonso Boekhoudt graced the party with his presence. The Red Cross Aruba is one of his favorite organizations and he is a staunch supporter of its activities. He talked from the heart, he told me, he made no formal speech, but outlined the organization’s contributions to our community.

What I learned: The Red Cross supports 150 migrant-refugees at a local shelter. Yesterday, the first Red Cross baby was born by Caesarian. True to its charter, the organization takes care of people, regardless of the fact that the government drags its heels, in taking decisions about migrant-refugees, who have nothing besides their Red Cross affiliation.

I also learned that in collaboration with AZV, the Red Cross is opening a hospice in Savaneta, a friendly place to spend the last dying weeks/days, instead of an expensive, cold hospital bed.

I thought that Jurgen’s fund-raising request letter was detailed and interesting, and I am reproducing it for you:

Of course, you know the Red Cross Aruba as a “first aid” “disaster relief” organization, wrote Jurgen, however we do much more like:

  • Social assistance for the poor by providing an emergency food package; 
  • Social assistance for lonely elderly, visiting them at their homes and socialize as well as regular events where they can come together and enjoy a meal together;
  • Social assistance and advice for asylum seekers and refugees that need help;
  • We have a charity bazaar at which inexpensive clothes can be purchased;
  • Red Cross Aruba also manages an emergency home for those who become homeless e.g. when one’s home got lost in a fire or flooding;
  • Red Cross Aruba provides all kinds of training, you might be interested for your own organization and family to receive certified training, attached the several courses, be prepared, you won’t regret it;
  • Red Cross Aruba provides ambulance services for events as well as during calamities, within a couple of months we will have 2 new ambulances on Aruba for our community;
  • Assistance during carnival, priceless;
  • The above is just a short list! 

A couple of facts from recent history, still fresh in memory but I still would like to share these with you:

  • Red Cross Aruba assisted with the flooding in 2016, we assisted during and after the flooding more than 150 households;
  • Red Cross Aruba’s volunteers arrived already before Hurricane Irma made landfall on St Maarten (SXM) in order to prepare for the situation during and after Irma in 2017, over 60 volunteers assisted in this disaster;
  • Red Cross Aruba made a large financial contribution to the victims of SXM during hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm ever recorded in the region;
  • The Red Cross Aruba director Michel La Haye was in charge of the Red Cross emergency relief operation on SXM, he spent many weeks assisting under very tough circumstances together with his team of professionals and volunteers from Aruba but also volunteers from SXM, BON, CUR and NL;

A couple of facts that are anticipated for the next coming months:

  • Hurricane season is predicted to be very active, let’s keep our fingers crossed for the best, prepare for the worst;
  • the humanitarian situation in Venezuela is devastating, we need to be prepared to assist when needed;
  • any other calamity that might occur.

Palliative care

Red Cross Aruba – amongst other organizations – is also contributing to the new palliative care on Aruba, we trust to have this in place in the course of 2018.

What have we – Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort and MVC Eagle Beach – done ourselves?

  • We made a 5-year financial commitment @Afl. 5K per year;
  • We host the yearly elderly dinner event;
  • We provide all kinds of financial assistance as well as assistance in kind when needed on a day to day basis when needed;
  • We will buy 10 tickets ourselves.

All of the above would not have been possible without Red Cross volunteers, they are the most important asset of the organization. These very same volunteers will be ready to assist you, your family and/or organization in difficult times. Help them to be ready when called upon.

Bear in mind that the Red Cross does not receive any financial support from our government, we really depend on private donors, like yourselves!

You, your family and your organization can count on the Red Cross Aruba, we will be amongst one of the first to assist you in need.

Can I take you up for 1 ticket?


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June 24, 2018
Rona Coster